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April 16, 2018

Mailbag: Are the Eagles still maybe trading Ronald Darby after Daryl Worley's release?

In our weekly Eagles chat on Wednesday, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Mike (via email): So I guess the Eagles aren’t trading Ronald Darby now that Daryl Worley has been released, right?

First, in case you’ve missed the logic in trading Darby, a quick primer:

The Eagles have the second-most amount of money in the NFL committed toward their 2019 cap, behind only the Jaguars, and there is about $20 million gap between Philly and the team with the third-most committed money.

Darby is in the final year of his contract, while the rest of the Eagles' corners have at least two years remaining on their deals. He is going to be very difficult for the team to afford next offseason. Rather than let Darby walk next offseason for nothing more than the possibility of a 2020 comp pick, if the Eagles can get, say, a third-round pick for him now, that would make a lot of sense.

I still think there’s a possibility the Eagles move Darby for a draft pick, though logically, the chances of that decreased after the team opted to release Worley in the wake of his dopey arrest Sunday morning.

Even after moving on from Worley, the Eagles have very good depth at corner, in Darby, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, and Rasul Douglas. Still, if they’re going to move on from Darby, they better be certain that Jones is ready to step in and be a good starter. If there’s any doubt, I don’t think you can move Darby when you have a chance to compete for another Super Bowl.

Oh, and they'd almost certainly have draft another corner too.

Question from Hinkie: What is the best move the Eagles have made so far this offseason, and what was their worst?

For me, the worst move was the trade for Worley. I promise you this isn’t some Neanderthal radio call in reasoning like, “HoWiE sHoUldN’t of tRaded fOr WorLeY bEcauSe hE gOt aRreSted tHaT wAs stoOooPid.”

Yes, the Eagles were going to let Smith go, and the argument could be made that ultimately they ended up with nothing for him, which is what they would have gotten anyway.

What do you think of that, Mike Gundy?

OK, settle down, Mike. It's not that bad.

If the Eagles were going to let Smith go, they wouldn't have had to release him. They simply wouldn't have picked up his team option in 2018, which would have made him a free agent, and in turn, he would have counted toward the compensatory pick formula if another team signed him, which they certainly would have.

In other words, by trading Smith to the Panthers for Worley, the Eagles missed out on a compensatory pick in 2019.

But beyond that, the trade for Worley probably also affected other decisions made on the first day of free agency. If you'll recall, the Eagles were reportedly trying to re-sign slot corner Patrick Robinson. As it turned out, Robinson left to sign with the Saints on a four year deal worth $20 million, and the Eagles traded Smith for Worley.

This is pure speculation, but I wonder if the trade for Worley affected the decision not to match the Saints' offer for Robinson. 

While Worley is an outside corner and Robinson is a slot corner, the Eagles' surplus of outside corners still would have enabled Mills to kick inside to the slot in nickel situations with plenty of depth remaining outside. Acquiring Worley for nothing while letting Robinson walk certainly made sense.

In an alternate universe, had the Eagles retained Robinson for some extra money instead of trading for Worley, they'd have a natural slot corner, in addition to a similar surplus of outsdie corners, thus still making Darby a tradeable asset.

Does all that make sense? Yes? No? At any rate, I think the Worley trade is a little more complex than just, "They would have let Torrey Smith go anyway, so no harm, no foul."

And obviously, I'm operating with the benefit of hindsight, as it's hard to predict whether or not a player is going to be found passed out in his car with a gun while blocking traffic right outside the team's facilities, though Worley did come with well-known character concerns.

Anyway, I'm curious what you would rather have.

As for the best move, I would say the re-signing of Nigel Bradham, which turned out to be a far less lucrative contract than originally reported.

Question from Travis the Lesser: If the Eagles have intentions of moving Jalen Mills to safety at some point in the future, would it not behoove the Eagles to make him their slot corner this year? Put him on the Malcolm Jenkins plan so to speak?

If the season started today, Mills would probably start on the outside, and would move into the slot in nickel. Doug talked about Mills at the NFL Annual Meetings.

“I think he’s comfortable enough," he said. "He understands. He’s a versatile guy. If you ever needed him to play a safety spot he can go back. He’s that type of athlete. He’s not just one position. He’s versatile enough to now that we can be able to move him around a little bit. For a guy that was drafted where he was, late, he’s been a real, real, big bright big spot for us these first two years.”

So yes, I would guess Mills will see action in the slot this year, and I believe that the team views him as a safety at some point down the line.

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